Monday, July 30, 2012

Book Recommendation: Bringing Up Bebe

I'm having so much fun reading Bringing Up Bebe: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting. The truth is, I could probably read a critique of the book and agree with many of its points (the author is a bit self-centered, much of her evidence is anecdotal, etc.). But I still enjoy reading it! Many of the ideas (regardless of whether they're anecdotal or gross generalizations or whatever) resonate with me. 

For example, I'm intrigued by the idea of "The Pause," which is the phrase the author coins for a common strategy used by French parents to get their babies to sleep through the night--on average--much earlier than the average American parents.

Many of the ideas sound similar to the Montessori approach, such as establishing clear limits and then giving children immense freedom within those limits. 

While reading the book, I have several different responses:
  1. Wow! I'm already doing that! I'm going to keep it up!
  2. Ooh, that makes sense. I'm going to work on that.
  3. Ugh, I really don't want to raise my child that way.
Things that fall into the third category for me include the general French resistance to breastfeeding, and the speed with which French parents return to work after welcoming babies into their families.  

At every turn, I find myself analyzing my own parenting philosophy and generating next steps. I definitely recommend it! I added it to my list of recommended parenting books in the left-hand sidebar of this blog.



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15 comments:

Jules said...

I LOVE that book! I've been on a French book kick lately, and also recommend "Paris in Love," "Lunch in Paris," and "French Kids Eat Everything." : )

Sarah said...

This book is waiting for me at the library and I plan to pick it up today. I've been on a bit of a parenting book break b/c it can feel so overwhelming to sort through all the information and at some point I just have to put the books away and do what works for us, but this one looks like a fun/interesting read. And as you noted, you can always just take what works and discard the rest.

Cécy said...

I'm curious on your comment about French parents returning to work really soon. Truth is we have a much longer maternity leave (and paid too) in France than you do in the US so it makes me question it. Oh yes and paternity leave too.

Julia said...

I don't have children (yet), but I read and thoroughly enjoyed this book. The sleep thing resonated most with me. It makes sense to me that you don't run and pickup a sleeping baby at the first sign of fussiness. I don't understand why parents do that, but that's possibly because I've never had an infant :)

Sara E. Cotner said...

Hi, Cécy! That section was more about the concept of "stay at home moms," which the author says is much more common in the United States. She explained that France has such a high-quality, state-sponsored daycare program that many families try to get their children enrolled in it so they can head back to work.

Sara E. Cotner said...

Hi, Julia! I imagine it's because we want our children to feel secure and to trust the world and not feel alone and scared. At least those are the thoughts that go through my mind related to sleep (although I did sleep train Henry because I think good sleep is really important for him and the rest of the family).

Anonymous said...

I'm confused. So you're against parents returning to work?

Kate said...

I was raised by a Euro Mama and I got to say, a lot of what I see "American" mothers do does kinda confuse and shock me. My mother always said that if you don' teach your kid he/she is not the center of the universe than someone a lot meaner than you probably will.

Allyn said...

This was the first (and, honestly, one of the few) parenting books I have read and I loved every minute of it. I see my friends obsessing over their babies and completely losing themselves in tending to the needs of their child 24/7 and I keep thinking that it can't be right. My parents didn't hover around me, but encouraged my independence. I, also, especially liked the idea of "the pause" and that it was so integral to French culture, it never occurred to anyone to mention it to the author. Of course children don't need to be addressed immediately. It makes perfect sense! I particularly enjoyed the idea of French mothers not staying home with their children. I am lucky in that I teach at a university and only have to be on campus 2.5 days per week (the rest of my work is grading, reading, and writing; being an academic is awesome!). My partner is in a similar situation. We are both spending the week the baby is born at home, but starting week two, we are each going to get to be on campus 2.5 days per week. This is the egalitarian solution we have come up with that makes sure neither my husband nor I have an unfair disadvantage work wise when it comes to the baby.

nichole said...

I read Bringing Up Bebe this past spring. I enjoyed it. Some of the information felt sort of intuitive to me. Some of it a little harsh, but all of it thought provoking.

Sara E. Cotner said...

Hi, Nichole! Do you think some of the information felt intuitive to you because of your Montessori background? I felt like there was a lot of overlap between the "French" philosophy and Montessori.

laloutre said...

As a French mum, I think it would be interesting for me to read that book, to see how we are pictured. I didn't think French mothers were so different !
We have a long maternity leave here and we often think about being stay at home mums but we cant afford the cost of staying at home. That's something I regret, something a lot of my friends regret.
And as far as breastfeeding is concerned, most of my friends breastfed their children. It's such an amasing experience and breast milk is so good for the kids !
What made me laugh is that French people don't know much about Montessori.
Have a nice day and thank you for your enlightened posts.

Happy Hour said...

I read the book in the spring, before I was pregnant, and it really helped me to relax about the idea of becoming a mother. I liked many of the ideas. I may have to re-read it! However, I found the portrayal of the French way as very good and the American way as very crazy to be far-fetched. I have spent time in France with French mothers and children and guess what! They refuse to eat! They throw fits! Because sometimes, kids are kids.

Sara E. Cotner said...

Hi, laloutre! I would love for you to read the book and report back how you felt about it!

Mary said...

I read the book and loved it, but the writer lives in Paris, is fairly wealthy, and so are her friends (the sources for much of the anecdotes). I thought that the book made some excellent points, but I read it with the understanding that her perspective reflects those of a particular class. Also, once I learned that this is the same woman who arranged a thresome for her husband's 40th birthday and wrote about it in Marie Claire, my opinion of her diminished somewhat. I'm an uptight
American I suppose.

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